BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The leadership of the Communist Party and the state government in Yugoslavia's southern republic of Montenegro resigned Wednesday, bowing to thousands of protesters who criticized their management of the economy.
A crowd of demonstrators that swelled to about 120,000 people danced in front of the parliament building in the Montenegro capital of Titograd when the resignations were announced on national television and radio. Titograd Television said several people were injured.
It was the fourth time in as many months that government officials had been forced to resign in Yugoslavia, where ethnic and labor unrest has contributed to the worst crisis since the Communists came to power in 1945 after World War II.
The unrest in Titograd began Tuesday at the Radoje Dakic construction machinery plant when 1,500 workers left the compound and demonstrated, demanding the resignation of local party and state leaders, who they blamed for their republic's economic crisis.
The official media Wednesday announced the resignations of the eight members of the Montenegro presidency -- the republic's collective leadership -- of the parliament chairman, Velisav Vuksanovic, and of one of the eight members of the national presidency, Veselin Djuranovic.
It also announced the resignations of the 15 members of the presidium of the central committee of the republic's Communist Party and of three members of the Yugoslav Communist Party representing Montenegro.
The Yugoslav state presidency, the collective national leadership, Wednesday pointed to the 'serious economic situation' in Montenegro and the rest of the nation and appealed to Montenegrins to maintain calm and return to 'regular work' in factories and offices. The statement did not mention the resignations.
The unrest in Montenegro, the smallest of Yugoslavia's six republics, was the latest in a series of forced resignations by government officials.
Prime Minister Branko Mikulic and his government quit Dec. 30, following criticism of his leadership and his failure to curb an annual inflation rate of 250 percent.
In the northern town of Novi Sad about 100,000 militant Serbs forced the regional Vojvodina province Communist Party leadership to resign Oct. 6, after two days of protests.
In the southern town of Pristina, two Kosovo provincial Communist Party leaders quit under pressure from the Serbian leadership Nov. 17.
Labor protests and ethnic unrest in multi-national Yugoslavia last year seriously shook the federation of republics that has been run by a weak central government since the death of President Josip Broz Tito in May 1980.
Trade union officials say nearly 400,000 people took part in some 1,800 strikes throughout Yugoslavia in 1988.
When Mikulic took office in May 1986, the annual inflation rate was about 90 percent while now it has exceeded 250 percent. Yugoslavia has been burdened with some $21 billion in debt to Western creditors and about 1.2 million people, or more than 15 percent of the work force, were unemployed.